Compositional studies: Chardin in black and white

By September 6, 2012Studies

Making compositional and value studies of masterworks helps you to train your eye to dissect them and analyze them.  In this first offering, i’m looking at the great 18th Century French master, Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin.  Specifically, i’m looking at his still life work and below are eight of the quick studies i made.  Offered here to keep notes on things that i’m looking at.  Presently, I’m trying to vet an idea about still life painting.

Hallmarks of Chardin’s painting is the softness of the edges and a very tactile impasto.  I was fortunate enough to have been able to see the exceptional exhibition at the Met in 2000.  As i was working a few blocks away at the time, I was able to return a number of times.  Even acting as a dedicated “label reader” for the woefully sighted Lennart Anderson, noted Brooklyn contemporary realist painter.

These studies are just looking at balance and tone in the paintings.


Paintings reviewed spanned from 1726-35.  Early to mid-period paintings move from a sort of reliquary chiaroscuro to more brightly illuminated, even toned works.  In the samples given, the blacks have about equal weight to the high key light values.

E. Tage Larsen

E. Tage Larsen is an artist, designer and dog robber. You may encounter him as an art gallery director, branding designer or illustrator. His work has received awards from "Society of Illustrators", "American Illustration", 'Print' magazine annual as well as the LogoLounge and LogoLounge 'Master Series' annuals. Essays on design and fine art have appeared in numerous magazines and web sites.

Among his less savory qualities, he's a poor sport, a sore loser and ill fitted for honest labor. He makes bad friends and worse decisions. Animals avoid him and children despise him. He's been known to drink to excess, carry on with seditious talk and leer at women. He's a coward, a card cheat and a known liar.

Mrs. Call's second grade class said perhaps all that needed to be said about Larsen.In a moment of vindication and possibly clarity, Call would add to Larsen's permanent record that he was a bit of a dreamer and that Larsen was "an excellent student but his grades trailed off in the final semester."True, Larsen was filled with promise and saddled as starry-eyed but one can't help but notice that Call's inability to chisel this raffish diamond-in-rough wasn't also a clerical trick to distance herself from the responsibility of the 'Nurture' debate.She also said he was "prompt".She wasn't wrong.

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